Back in college, my room-mates always had a pretty good indicator of when financial aid disbursement happened; there would be a case of beer in the fridge and a stack of new vinyl by the stereo. Yes, I have always been a music hound, which giave my parents some bemusement; our house, growing up, was never a hotbed of music listening OR playing.
Who knows why it speaks to me so strongly? There’s some kind of void, and loud rock and roll has always kind of filled it at least partly.
As has been mentioned, using a USB turntable and the simplest possible process, I have been digitizing a pile of old records. Near as I can figure out, I stopped buying vinyl in late 1987 or early 1988, which makes sense; that would have been when I got my first post-graduation job, and had my first CD player for a couple of months at that point. Back then, dinosaurs roamed the earth, CDs were still 50% more expensive than vinyl, and Wife Sublime gave me a CD of The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway for my birthday, which would have set her back about 40 bucks (3 thousand in today’s dollars).
The better, more crucial parts of the vinyl collection have been replaced either on CD or digitally, for the convenience factor (also, some of those albums were pretty chewed up and needed to be replaced); so the Record Industry has been successful in their ploy to get me to pay for the music more than once! Well played, you slowly dying soulless motherfuckers!
Here’s an indicator of how long ago I stopped buying the big black CDs: THERE ARE NO MEKONS RECORDS IN THERE.
So, looking at my music liberry, I have added something like 1800 songs recently, of which maybe 1500 are from vinyl. Many of these are old classic rock or has-beens, or weird-ass prog rock. But a fair number are also local bands; yes, I have always Supported Local Music.
One of the local albums I processed was The Blend, by Brian Ritchie. As I was listening to the album, I see that a friend of mine, Ken Baldwin, had played drums on the record. Although I had met Kenny a couple of times during those days, I came to know him more recently on the professional side, as he had been working for some Real Estate companies on project financing. We did some preliminary work, but nothing that ever got to the point of making money for either of us.
And then, recently another friend from those days mentioned on FaceHell that Kenny was in the hospital, reportedly with lung cancer. I hope Ken had been able to get into some kind of health care situation in more recent days, but knowing that he was a musician and an independent consultant lately, I doubt it.
So here we are, on the cusp of another year, watching the Republicans continue to destroy the middle class in order to enrich the top 1% even further, as if buying another yacht with an elevator and a servant staff will fill the yawning void where there used to be a human, while (another) musician is dying
I may not be making a living anymore, but I am not a heartless miserable grasping sonofabitch. That’s something.
And I have this music, which still fills my heart and mind with anger and energy. And hope.
Not saying I won’t fold like a house of cards in the upcoming year, but for now, Bring it, 2012.
Friday Musical spew and End-Of-Year Fol-De-Rol. 44,405 tracks, 212 gigs and change. 120 days of music, if I started listening now, 2012 would be a third over before it all finished. It’s a plan.
1. The Coroner’s Gambit, The Mountain Goats. John Darnielle is one of those artists that still has a day job. The tension and distress shows in his music. When I’ve seen him play, he starts with an acoustic guitar, playing more aggressively and with abandon until too many of the strings have broken, then switches to electric and turns it up. “The enigma Variations/on the stereo” indeed, John, I recently digitized those LPs.
2. Lay Down And Die, Goodbye, Alice Cooper. Pretty old early effort. The mix is terrible, and other than the lyrical content, sounds like nearly any other late-60s psychedelic thrash.
3. Makeshift, The King of France. Speaking of psychedelic. Here’s a band that I have only acquired in digital format (yes I am backing up regularly) and it is subject to the listening habits we got into the tall commenting weeds about recently. I rarely hear them when I am listening on purpose, but they crop up on random. As you might be able to tell, random is kind of rare, hearing a band in the din of 40,000 other tracks can be a challenge. I have to keep working at this.
4. Maybe The Poet, Bruce Cockburn. The angry liberal singer-songwriter from north of the border, author of If I Had A Rocket Launcher. hey, not only did I see this guy and his phenomenal band on the World of Wonders tour, I did load-in/load-out, and follow spot (fucking promoter wouldn’t even comp us t-shirts for the lighting duty!) I was holding a ladder for the lighting techs while they did sound check, and between songs, chatted a bit with Bruce. Nice fella, exactly what you would expect from a Canuck. YES I AM STEREOTYPING.
Anyway, this is a great song, also. If you like the seasonal stuff, Bruce also did a great and fine Holiday album, him and his guitar (titled, perplexedly enough, Christmas), a few years back.
5. Tabouli, Los Straitjackets. The BEST surf-instrumental-alt band working in Mexican wrestling masks, BAR NONE. I know I will take heat for that opinion, but who can argue the point? They played at Summerfest, so OF COURSE I saw them. Fits right in, and they had guest vocalists. The between song Spanglish banter is hilarious.
6. The Final Cut, Pink Floyd. To all intents and purposes, a Roger Waters solo album.
Years ago, we had one of our favorite nephews kill himself. For weeks afterward, we listened to this album nearly nonstop. In fact, I think I bought the CD at that point, because the cassette I had was in crappy shape. In any case, I still can’t listen to parts of this album without thinking of Mike. He never deserved the kind of shit he got in his life, and the family couldn’t figure out what kind of help he needed.
7. Pissing In A River, Patti Smith. Well, thankfully; a light song. Heh. Substance McGravitas had a funny kind of post about Ms. Smith recently, and her book Just Kids. Too much time around people like Andy Warhol, I guess. Her songs are still good though.
8. Next To You, The Police. The Police used to be kind of a rocking punky band. Who the fuck gave them money?
9. From Time To Time, The Stubborn All-Stars. Third Wave ska? Fourth wave? What are we up to? Dunno, I love ska of all kinds. The iPod alarm clock woke me up today with, among other things, a song from Something To Do, local ska kids and fine people, all. We see them several times a year around town, Summerfest and in bars.
10. People Like Us, Talking Heads. Wow, we used to listen to Talking Heads all the time. I had a graduate design studio that had a project to design a house for David Byrne using the lyrics of the band to establish the parti. We listened to this disc all the time, and I alienated my fellow studio-mates by covering the sides of my workspace in political cartoons and articles. Kind of like an analog version of this blog, now that I consider it, but with less cursing. Well, no, not really. The cursing is pretty much the same.
11. Lily Of The Valley, Queen. Queen are one of the bands that I’ve loved since I was an idiot in high school. In my vinyl efforts, I skipped right over the Queen section, because I have replaced all those LPs with CDs or digital copies. Freddie Mercury should have lived forever, but at least he lived like a fucking rock star before he went, even before he WAS a rock star.
12. Winterlong, The Pixies. Pixies covering a Neil Young song? O MY yes, please. Saw them at the Eagles club with Zelmo, on one of their last pre-reunion tours. Wow loud. And also at the Amphitheater, on one of those reunion tours. Opening for Pearl Jam? something like that. For a weirdo, I really expected Black Francis to ramble on between songs MUCH more. The guitarist, Joey Santiago, is responsible for the music direction on the HILARIOUS black comedy Weeds.
13. Dog Years, Rush. One for BRANDO and LAURA, who have exquisite taste in hard rock like I do. Actually, this is one of those songs where Neil Peart pushes the metaphor WAY too far. RAWKS anyway. HALPING JENNIFER.
14. Big Green, Neil Young. Heh. weird. I mention Neil Young and Pearl Jam, and here is a song from Mirrorball, which as any fule kno (even upside downies) Young recorded WITH Pearl Jam. Well, it SHOULD have worked. Crazy Horse is still the best band to back Neil Young, though (and I HAVE seen that). Yes, it was a barn show, which I usually avoid, but Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Sonic Youth, and Social Distortion? IT MIGHT GET LOUD.
15. Pon de Floor, Major Lazer. W.T.F.? Yanno, maybe I have overdone this music thing. In any case, I am adding one more, because I DO NOT know where the fuck this one came from.
16. Green, Another Sunny Day. Well, a little strummy twee Brit-pop is a pretty good way to end this one. I know there are SOME PEOPLE who don’t like this kind of thing, but since they don’t hang out here, I ain’t worrying about it, you know? I like it fine, fine indeed.
Well, for a Friday Musical Spew [End of Year], that post had a lot of death in it. Maybe it is like lancing a boil, and I can get rid of the bad? I know, not likely, but in any case, now I need a drink and it’s only 10 AM.
- Vinyl Records Are Cool Again (chicagotalks.org)